California Evictions

California Evictions, images source: Landlordology.com

Despite the recovery of housing prices in most of California, evictions are as common as foreclosures.

So, if you are a landlord with an uncooperative tenant then the best option for you might be to initiate an eviction process for your California rental.

To initiate the eviction process in California as a landlord you must file a unlawful detainer lawsuit in California Superior Court.   In this case the landlord is referred to as the plaintiff and the tenant is called the defendant.

An unlawful detainer lawsuit is a summary court procedure which means the court action is expedited.   This gives your tenant little time to delay their response since in most cases, the tenant has only five days to file a written response to the lawsuit after being served with a copy of the landlord’s complaint.  Typically, a judge could hear your case within 20 days of your filing.

The benefit of filing an unlawful detainer is that it gives the tenants ample time to air their side of the story in case the landlord has violated their rights.  In fact, landlords can not take the matter into their own hands by locking the tenant out of the property or disconnect their utilities in order to force an eviction.

If landlord uses unlawful methods to evict a tenant, the landlord may be subject to liability for the tenant’s damages, as well as penalties of up to $100 per day for the time that the landlord used the unlawful methods.

If the court decides in favor of the landlord, the court will issue a writ of possession. The writ of possession orders the sheriff to remove the tenant from the rental unit, but gives the tenant five days from the date that the writ is served to leave voluntarily.  If the tenant does not leave by the end of the fifth day, the writ of possession authorizes the sheriff to physically remove and lock the tenant out, and seize the tenant’s belongings that have been left in the rental unit. The landlord is not entitled to possession of the rental unit until after the sheriff has removed the tenant.

The court also may award the landlord any unpaid rent if the eviction is based on the tenant’s failure to pay rent. The court also may award the landlord damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees.  If the court finds that the tenant acted maliciously in not giving up the rental unit, the court also may award the landlord up to $600 as a penalty. The judgment against the tenant will be reported on the tenant’s credit report for seven years.

Have you even been forced to evict a tenant?  Share your thoughts on the process.


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